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Bringing stability, life and hope to the worlds most underserved and vulnerable indigenous populations

[Introduce yourself here:] Hello, my name is ................, and I am .................., representing Amman Imman (Water is Life), an organization dedicated to bringing stability life and hope to the worlds most underserved indigenous populations, starting by building permanent and sustainable sources of water in the Azawak of Niger. In essence, Amman Imman builds Oases of Life once essential needs are met, starting with water, all other forms of life can sprout. I am here today to tell you three stories: 1) The first is a story that has changed my life and I hope by hearing my presentation that it will become personal and change yours in some small way. It is the story of 500,000 people living in the Azawak region of West Africa literally dying of thirst. Let me emphasize this point: they are not dying because they do not have access to clean water. They are dying because they literally do not have access to more than this amount of water in a day just to stay alive (hold up a small bottle of water preferably muddy water, to give an idea). 2) The second story is my story, and how Ive decide to dedicate myself to this lifegiving cause. 3) The third story, is one of the many individuals, schools, institutions, corporations, churches, ect, that have joined Amman Imman and are contributing in their own way to help save the lives of the children of the Azawak. I hope that this will also become your story.


To provide development assistance, particuarly in the areas of food and water security, among the worlds world most vulnerable indigenous populations, beginning with the Azawak of West Africa. Serve as a conduit between these populations and the rest of the world by raising awareness and engaging individuals of all ages to take action.

Amman Immans mission is two-fold: 1. To provide development assistance,particularly in the areas of food and water security, among the worlds most vulnerable indigenous populations. 2. To serve as a conduit between these populations and the western world by raising awareness and engaging individuals of all ages to take action. Since 2005, Amman Imman has been working in the Azawak region of Niger is to save and improve lives among the most vulnerable and abandoned populations of Africa, currently dying of thirst, by providing clean and permanent/sustainable sources of water. What makes the problem in the Azawak unique? How is the water probLets pause on The people in the Azawak are not dying because they are drinking dirty water (although this is also a problem), but they are dying because they literally do not have enough water to drink. This point is what makes the water problem in this region unique when compared with most other regions suffering from high morbidity and mortality rates linked to water, where often these are linked to unclean water rather than water scarcity. Amman Imman saves lives among people currently dying of thirst.

Wells of Love
To empower students as Heroes of Compassion Compassion empathic leaders with caring, philanthropic spirits - by engaging them to help bring stability, life and hope to some of the worlds most vulnerable, world starting with the people of the Azawak of West Africa

The mission of Wells of Love is to empower students as Heroes of Compassion, empathic leaders with caring, philanthropic spirits - by engaging them to bring stability life and hope to some of the worlds most vulnerable, starting with the people of the Azawak of West Africa. Wells of Love teaches students to be stewards of our earth and humanity. Since 2006 weve engaged students in over 50 schools to help the people of the Azawak through our Wells of Love program. The focus of this presentation will be on Amman Immans work in the Azawak, and our work with students around the world through Wells of Love.

Ariane Kirtley
Founder and Director

Amman Imman was founded by Ariane Kirtley in 2006. Ariane grew up in West Africa where her parents were National Geographic photographers. She spent a lot of time in Niger, and she always wanted to give back to the place she considered home. She attended Yale University, getting her undergraduate degree in medical anthropology and her masters in public health. She first traveled to the Azawak as a Fulbright scholar, while conducting public health research. Even though she had grown up in Niger, she had never seen so much suffering, and she had never witnessed people literally dying of thirst. She also never saw a region with no humanitarian aid. But in the Azawak, no one was providing assistance. Everyone she met pleaded please bring us water to save our children from dying. Ariane tried to get the help of large humanitarian organizations, but no one was interesting in going to the Azawak to help. With with the help of family and friends, she decided to be the first to bring permanent and sustainable water sources to the region by founding Amman Imman and building boreholes in the Azawak. Now, she travels there with her husband Denis and their young son. Denis, has become Amman Immans Niger program director and manages the work in the Azawak. Ariane calls the children of the Azawak her children, and they call her hope (issudar)

Our First Success Story: The Janet Cornelius Borehole in the Village of Tangarwashane

Here is the photo of Amman Immans first success story, the Janet Cornelius borehole (named after the person who donated must of the funds to cover the cost of the borehole), situated in the village of Tangarwashane. We will talk about this success story, and how we hope to have many more like this, later on during the presentation. (completed in July, 2007)

Our Second Accomplishment:

Montessori Well of Love Borehole in the Village of Kijigari

Our 2nd borehole, Montessori Well of Love, village of Kijigari, built with the help of our Heroes of Compassion in Wells of Love schools around the world. Ariane and Denis sit with the Management committee. Our third borehole, in the village of Chinwigari, was built by another nonprofit based on plans designed by Amman Imman. We work with the men and women on the Chinwigari water management committee to run and manage their borehole. (completed in June, 2010)

Niger: one of the poorest countries in the world

The Azawak covers 80,000 square miles (approx. size of Florida), with a population of 500,000

Before I talk about the Azawak, and the plight of its people, I want to situate the region geographically for you. Niger is a country located in West Africa. It is considered one of the poorest countries in the world and the Azawak region can be considered one, if not THE poorest region in one of the poorest countries of the world. The Azawak, highlighted in orange in the bottom map, extends from Niger into Mali. As you can see, it is a very large region covering 80,000 sq miles (approximately the size of Florida) with a population of 500,000 (approximately the number of people living in Washington DC or the state of Wyoming). Please do not forget how large this region is, and the number of people that live there as we move along during the presentation.

Who are the People of the Azawak?

There are a lot of poor people in this world, and there is a lot of suffering. Why should we give special attention to the people of the Azawak? To highlight why I care, and before I talk about the plight of the people of the Azawak, I think it is important for you to know a bit more about them and why their problems are so unique, so that their problems become more personal to you. Please remember that we are talking about true people, many of whom have become our personal friends through the Friendship Exchange, Arianes stories, (and in other ways) not simply statistics or numbers of people dying. So who are the people of the Azawak?

The People

The Tuareg and Fulani ethnic groups Pastoralists that live off herding animals Most live in small camps Some live in small villages and survive off of sustenance farming

Most of the people of the Azawak have traditionally been pastoral nomads who live off of their animals, moving their tents (homes) from one location to another. More and more of these traditional nomads are being obliged to settle down into villages because the rainy season is becoming shorter and shorter (perhaps because of global climate change). Indeed, 15 years ago, the rainy season lasted about five months. In 2005, the rainy season lasted 3 months (and this had a detrimental effect on herds as well as people), and in some of the past couple of years, the rainy season only lasted one month and a half with rains rarely lasting more than 15 minutes every couple of days. Because of this, pastures do not grow, and hence animal herds have been decimated. For instance, the pastoralist Alhassan recounts: Many years ago before constant draught overcame the land, at least 300 heads of livestock - cows and camels were passed down from one generation to the next. A few years ago, my herd size went down from 150 animals to 20 animals. In 2005, I only had a few left. Today, I have none, and am starting to grow millet and other food. But without water or rain, this too is a real challenge Without animals to sustain their livelihood, these nomads have had to settle into villages. But without a water source to grow crops, or even build a true village, this settling process is arduous and unsustainable. (The people of the Azawak not only suffer from lack of water, but also from lack of food. Most people only eat one meal a day, which often consists of a small amount of white rice or the grain millet. If they are lucky, and the animals are producing milk, then they will drink milk the rest of the day. But without rain or pastures, the animals are no longer producing much or any milk to supplement meals. During the food crisis that plagued Niger in 2005, when the rest of Niger received food aid from the govt and development agencies, rural Azawak received no help. In 2010/2011, an even harsher famine has hit the land. No grain left to buy, and no hay to purchase) It is important that I mention that the people living in the Azawak are or have been predominantly nomadic, because this is the main reason that they have been ignored by their government, national and international development agencies, etc. It has been against national and international development policy to work with nomadic populations for the following predominant reasons: 1) it is not a lifestyle that has been promoted by governments; 2) nomads are considered to difficult to work with (ex: not easy to have a travelling school or travelling clinic). The irony is that they are now losing their nomadic lifestyle, but have little other recourse because they still have to move from one water point to another just to find water to survive. We, the team of Amman Imman, believe that we cannot let these people die of thirst just because they are nomadic. Additionally, we do not find it difficult to work with them. We choose to place our water sources in sedentarized villages located along nomadic travel routes. In this way, both nomadic and sedentary populations have access to water.

These are not only people with great suffering, but they are also people with a rich and beautiful culture. These photos were taken during festivities called Guerwuls, held by the Fulani people during the rainy season. During these ceremonies, men dress up and put makeup on, and then dance for the women. At the end of the dance, the women can choose the most handsome man, and if they are lucky, they get to elope with him. Its a little like a beauty pageant in reverse. And finally, before moving on to their plight, I want you to know that the people of the Azawak are extraordinarily generous. No matter how little they have, they will give you what they have. If they only have one glass of milk or water left for the day, they will not hesitate a second before giving it to you. They will kill their last goat and hold a feast in your honor, even if it means they will not have anything else to eat afterwards. For instance, one of Arianes dear friends walked 20 miles overnight when he first met her to find a goat so that she would be sure to have meat to eat in the morning.


The most underserved population in one of the Poorest Countries in the World
No infrastructure No roads (paths) Little health care Few Schools (illiteracy rate: 99%) Intense hunger Almost no humanitarian assistance

No permanent or sustainable water sources

Now I will move on to the plight of the people of the Azawak. Let us not forget that we are talking about the poorest region in one of the poorest countries of the world. What does it mean to be poor? A young student recently gave a very good definition: not having any of your basic needs met. What are these basic needs? Food, water, shelter, clothing and she added, education. As we will soon see, this definition fits quite well to the people of th Azawak. To put things into perspective, let me talk a second about the way life is in most villages of Niger outside of the Azawak. In other regions of Niger, also considered very poor, one would find the following conditions. Trails leading from one village to the next (why talk about trails? Trails and roads are necessary for access to resources of all sorts) Health care centers within a days walk away, maximum Schools within a few hours walk Most importantly, wells in practically every village, where usually no more than 500 to 1000 people use one well at a time. Many larger villages have several wells to meet the needs of all their people. No running water or electricity, but this is to be expected Does this situation already sound dire and distressful? Can you imagine it getting any more difficult? I couldnt, until I traveled to the Azawak. On my way there, I went through villages that seemed like metropolises in comparison to the villages of the Azawak. In the Azawak, there is no infrastructure of any sort: There are very few paths or trails leading away from one village and going to the next village or camp. There are only a few schools dispersed throughout the entire region remember, a region the size of Florida (a child would have to walk several days to attend) A health center is at least a 2 day donkey ride away. (from Washington to Annapolis without a car, no roads, no paths). Imagine being deadly ill, and having to ride a donkey for two days to get to a health center, where, instead of finding a doctor, you would find a government volunteer with no medical training. This person would generally treat you with an aspirin regardless of your systems: if you have a headache or malaria, you get an aspirin. If you have a wound, he or she will pound the aspirin into a powder and apply it to your wound. But the two most important factors making the Azawak so unique are the following: There are no permanent or sustainable sources of water. We will talk more about this situation and its consequences in a minute. In other places of Niger, there are generally wells, and there is a high mortality rate due to unclean water, but at least they have water. In the Azawak, most people simply do not even have a cup of water to drink in a day. And even more distressing than this unbearable living condition, there are almost no humanitarian or governmental organizations working to help these people. At least in all the other very poor regions of Niger, organizations are generally working to bring humanitarian development and assistance. You cant go 20 miles without seeing signs of large development agencies such as CARE International, UNICEF, Save the Children, etc pledging projects. But in the Azawak, no one is there to help the populations meet their basic needs.


Live or die based on the rainy season

survive on less than 1.5 gallons of water/person/day -a quantity well under the World Health Organization prescribed minimum of 6.5 gallons of water/person/day

Now I am going to talk to you about the main problem in the Azawak, the fact that there are few sustainable and permanent sources of water. The people of the Azawak have a saying in the local language, Amman Imman, Arr Issudar: Water is Life, Milk is Hope. Before you can have hope, you first need water. Before you can have hope, you first need life. When Ariane first went to the Azawak, she interviewed 200 men and 200 women, and went into 700 households (tents and adobe homes) to conduct a public health study. Every single person she met begged her, please help bring us water to stop our children from dying. At this point, she told them that she couldnt bring them water as a researcher, it wasnt her role but she made a promise to serve as witness to their water plight to the rest of the world. These are people who live on less than 1.5 gallons of water per day, during the good times. To put this into perspective, the World Health Organization states that, at the very minimum in the poorest of the poor countries, an individual must have at least 6.5 gallons of water just to survive. Now, think about how much water we as an average American use in a day. First of all, what do you use water for? (brush your teeth, flush the toilet, take a shower, cooking, drinking, watering your lawn, filling up your swimming pools, ect, ect the buildings you live in, the clothes you wear, the soft drinks you drink all were made with one basic ingredient water) The typical American uses an average of 70 gallons of water per day. Now think about the people of the Azawak who, during the good times, only use 1.5 gallons of water/person/day, and that generally do not have even this much water to use in a day for drinking, washing themselves, etc (again, hold up the water bottle that you used at the beginning). These are people whose entire life whether or not they live or die depends on how much rain falls. These are people who are entirely controlled by their environment. Think about it are you controlled by your environment, or do you control your environment? Does your life depend on the rain? If its hot outside, you can come inside and turn on the AC. If its cold, you can come inside and turn on the heat, boil youself a cup of hot chocolate, sit on a comfortable sofa and warm up. These people have no such luxury. Their lives literally depend on their environment, and most specifically, the rainfall. As I said before, their rainy season (which is only 15 minutes to an hour of rain maximum every couple of days), many years ago lasted about five months. At this time, enough rain filled the marshes and enough pastures grew to provide a sufficient amount of food and water year round for them and their animals. But the seasons have changed dramatically in 2005, the rainy season only lasted three months. At this point, livestock herds were being decimated, and one out of every two (1/2) children were dying before the age of 5 most because of water related causes (lack of water/dehydration, water contamination, etc). Thats the highest rate of childhood mortality in the world. Niger, as a country has the highest rate of mortality, which is one in four (1/4). In the Azawak, one out of two children dies before the age of five. How many of us here only have one sibling? Think about it, if you had grown up in the Azawak, either you or your brother or sister would not be alive today. In 2007, the rainy season only lasted one month and a half, and during some of the past couple of years, it has dwindled down to only a month, if that much. The child mortality rate must be even more dire today than it was in 2005.


During the 1.5 - 3 month rainy season season

Drink, wash, and cook with brackish marsh water contaminated with human and animal waste darker than hot chocolate chocolate

During the one month rainy season, it is the time of festivities, celebration, and happiness because everyone has plenty of water to drink, cook, wash dishes and clothes, and bathe with. Animals are healthy and milk is plentiful. During the rainy season, depressions in the ground fill up with water to form marshes. These marshes are where the animals also bathe and drink, and so the water is contaminated not only with weeds and debris, but also with human and animal waste. It is darker that a mud puddle and looks more like hot chocolate than water. Yet this is the happy time the time of plenty.


In the photo on the left, children are gathering water from the marshes. At this point, this is a fairly easy process, and takes the children about an hour. In the top right photo, the rains have stopped. Since it is often 120 to 125 degrees F, the marshes evaporate quickly once the rainy season ends. In this photo, the marsh has begun drying up. The children dig in the marsh clay to gather the rain water that has seeped underneath. As you can see, this water is completely contaminated, and the children are digging underneath ground that has been trampled down by a herd of animals. The little boy in the bottom photo started drinking the water from his bowl soon after the picture was taken. (people often ask, why dont they at least boil their water before drinking it? Remember that these people do not have access to health care or health information, and do not know that it would be healthier for them to boil the water) This entire process of travelling to the drying marsh, digging holes, and filling up a few 5 gallon containers took the children over 4 hours. (Bottom right photo) Once the marshes have completely evaporated, men dig shallow open water holes in the marsh, up to 70 feet, to gather the rainwater that has seeped into the ground. The photo shows a man digging in the bottom of a shallow marsh well to reach more water. As you can see, much of the time, the water that is brought to the surface can be compared more to mud than to water. If the rainy season has been good, then they can use these water holes for several months. If the rainy season has been short and unproductive, these water holes may only last a few weeks to a month or two.


Once these dry out after a few months, water sources are up to 50 km away

The very hard times begin when these shallow water holes dry out. At this point, people often have to travel over 35 miles to different deep open wells or boreholes looking for water. At this time, everyone is in charge of fetching water, including young children. Children get on their donkeys at 4 in the morning and ride approximately 15 miles in 125 degree F weather without water or much food. In the afternoon, they arrive at one of the few water sources dispersed across the Azawak (remember, a region the size of Florida) often to a very deep well usually dug 250-300 feet deep (the length of a football field). If they are lucky, the well hasnt been overused and they will be able to pull about 5 gallons of (usually muddy) water for themselves and their family of 5 to 7 individuals, as well as their small ruminants. Often, however, the well is dry, and not even mud can be pulled out. Since there are so few water sources in the region, each water source is often overexploited and dries out quickly. This means that the children have to ride yet another 10 to 15 miles to the next water source, and often do not return home until one or two days later. Sadly, more often than wed like to imagine, the children return home too late with their five gallons of water, and come home to find out that one of their siblings has passed away from dehydration while waiting.


These water sources are

Every 30 mi or so Water table 600 to 3000 feet deep Too difficult and expensive to build by populations Very difficult to use overexploited

You may ask yourself why there arent more hand dug deep wells in the Azawak, like you are used to seeing on TV in other parts of Africa and even Niger? Indeed, in most places in Niger, each village has its own well, and often the people of the village have been able to dig their own well. In other parts of Niger, the underground water table is 20 to 60 feet deep, a depth that can be hand dug. In the Azawak, however, the permanent and sustainable aquifer or water table called the Continental Interalaire is 600 feet deep in the East, and reaches up to 3000 feet deep in the west, depths that cannot possibly be hand dug. Highly specialized and expensive equipment is needed to dig this deep. People do try to dig, and after many years of digging (often 6 to 10 years), sometimes reach small pockets of rainwater that has seeped into the ground over many years (as seen in deep open wells). Many times they give up before water is ever reached. In the top left photo, you see a well that was built by an NGO before the Tuareg rebellion in the early 90s, when NGOs were operating in the region. Superficially, this well looks very nice, particularly with its pulley at the top to help extract water from below. But the appearance of this well is misleading because it never actually provided a single drop of water. The NGOs drilling wells in the region never did a hydrogeological study to know how deep they had to dig. They obtained their funds based on the assumption that they would find water at no more than 150 feet (as would be the case in most of Niger), and stopped digging when they ran out of funds despite the fact that the wells were never drilled deep enough to reach water. The Azawak is literally littered with these unfinished and useless dry wells. As far as Amman Imman is concerned, it is a tragedy that funds were wasted drilling these dry wells when the need for water is so great. This is not a story Amman Imman aims to repeat.


Very difficult to pull water

Here are a few more photos of the deep, open wells. Extracting water out of these very deep 250-300 feet wells (again, thats the length of one football field!) requires a huge amount of physical exertion. Simply filling the 5 gallon buckets with water at the bottom of the well takes the strength of one to several men, heaving and hauling the bucket for several minutes (photo in previous slide). And then it takes at least four donkeys to pull the water up to the surface again, pulling up the distance of the length of one football field. This can take up to half an hour, and the whole process of pulling up 5 gallons of water from the ground can take up to an hour. So since so many people are waiting at the well, each family usually only has one chance to pull up 5 gallons in a day for their entire families and their small animals waiting at home. This process is so gruelling and difficult that the donkeys, instead of living several years, usually only live a few months and die prematurely of fatigue. This may seem harsh and cruel to the donkeys, but how else are the people going to get water up from the ground if not with the help of animal traction?

[Movie: Deep Wells in the Azawak, about 2 minutes long]


Water is contaminated

Water is contaminated
If at least the 5 gallons of water pulled up from the ground were clean, it could almost make the work worth it although even if it were clean, it still wouldnt be enough for people to survive. If they have to share the five gallons of water with all their family members and the little ruminants, does that leave 1.5 gallons of water per person? No, it hardly leaves them a bottle of water to drink per person in a day (hold up the bottle of brackish dirty water). And as you can see in both photos, the water drawn from these very deep open wells is still contaminated. The bucket that you see in the bottom photo was found in one of the few schools that exists across the region. The bucket contained approximately five gallons of brackish dirty water that had to be shared between 30 students and had to last them at least three days, thereby not even leaving each student at least a glass of water to drink in a day. In the top photo, you see a man drinking out of an animal troth, and sharing the water with cows. You may be disgusted by this, but again, this man has no access to health information and does not know that drinking out of the animal troth with animals is unhealthy. Sharing water with his animals is something hes done his entire life. (Additional information:There is severe overexploitation/overcrowding found around the water sources since there are too few dispersed across the region to meet the needs of the populations of the Azawak. Rather than having between 400 to 1000 people using one well, as would be the case in most places in Niger, in the Azawak often 5,000 to 25,000 people and animals use each water source.)


One out of two children die before age five Covered in hives and fleas A simple wound or pimple becomes deadly 99% have never heard of HIV/AIDS

Niger has the highest rate of child mortality in the world. One out of four children dies before reaching age 5. But in the Azawak, one in two children die before the age of five, from conditions including diarrhoea, malaria and other diseases, and about half of those dying, die simply because they do not have any water at all to drink. Thats much higher than the overall childhood mortality rate of Niger, which again, is the highest in the world! Some will also die of simple infections. An example, a little girl had a pimple on her cheek. But because there was no water to clean her wound when her pimple burst, her entire face became extremely infected and swelled up. When the Amman Imman team found her, she could hardly breathe. Our team rushed her to the nearest hospital, which was a day drive away, where she was able to get antibiotics to reduce her infection and swelling. This little girl survived. But how many other children die for lack of water to treat their wounds? Imagine dying due to a simple pimple. Kids are covered in fleas and other pests: These are people who for nine months or more during the dry season do not take a single bath. How many times a week do you bathe? (once a day, once every couple of days?). Imagine going the hottest month of the summer without a single shower. Then imagine going through the entire summer without a single shower. Naturally, these people are covered in pests because they cant stay clean enough, and suffer many health consequences because of this. They often resort to washing with sand. When Ariane conducted her public health study in 2005, she found that 99% of the people she interviewed had never heard of HIV/AIDS. This was very surprising and alarming given that in other regions of Niger, everyone had heard of the killer disease. With migration to other countries and cities becoming a trend among the men since theyve lost most of their animals, they often travel to seek money to bring home to their families HIV/AIDS has most likely begun afflicting the populations of the Azawak.


Success Story: Tangarwashane Borehole

An Oasis of Life Clean and abundant water year round

Left: Children at Tangarwashane using the faucets, washing with clean water. Now, Im going to stray from the sad story of the region to the story of hope, to the story of success to the Amman Imman story, that I have also joined. When Ariane first left this region in September 2005, she tried to get help of many different development organizations whose job it is to bring assistance to the most vulnerable and poor populations of the world. The long and short of it was that these organizations were not interested in working in the Azawak with nomadic populations (even though many have become sedentary), or with minority populations that had been in conflict with the government in the past. And finally, they deemed it too costly and difficult to work in the region. Ariane made a promise to the people of the Azawak. She promised to bring them help. When she realized no one was going to help them, she decided to help them directly by founding program Amman Imman to drill permanent water sources in the region. In 2007, we accomplished our first success story by building the Janet Cornelius borehole (named after the lovely woman that financed a majority of this deep well) in the village of Tangarwashane. We also established a water management committee in order to better ensure the sustainable use and management of the water source. In 2009 we helped train the management committee of a borehole built in Chinwigari by Unicef, based on a proposal submitted to them by Amman Imman in 2007. (Each borehole costs approximately $180,000. This includes all the costs associated with drilling the borehole, building and installing the infrastructure (pump, water tower, faucets, troughs), training the management committee, etc. Building more than one borehole at a time will bring costs down considerably.) The Tangarwashane borehole has already proven to be an Oasis of Life. With water, all other forms of life can sprout. Since the construction of the borehole: 1)A school has been built and children are learning French and math, among other things 2)The children have planted a school garden 3)The local government has sponsored an adult education class 4)The international NGO, IRD, planted 5,000 gum arabica trees to help reforest the area (which they could do thanks to the water provided by the borehole) 5)IRD also helped create a cereal bank and livestock program for the women 6)Families are planting sustenance crops


Oasis of Life

for environmental protection Women empowerment / economic autonomy, thanks to a cereal bank and livestock program

Childrens Children Adult

school and school garden

education classes

Left photo: native trees donated by nonprofit International Relief and Development (IRD) to reforest the land. These trees can also help boost the economy, as they produce sap that the people can sell. Right photo: Ariane with students and teacher in the new school built in Tangarwashane, April 2010.

Additional information about the infrastructure: Animal troughs are intentionally located 600 feet away from the water tower so as to avoid contamination. There are four, six meter long troths so that the animals can drink as much clean water as they would like. The water tower stores 20,000 liters of water

Drilling the Kijigari borehole

Spring, 2010

Here you see the drilling rigs for the Kijigari borehole. It took five rigs of equipment, and drilling 24 hours a day for a week to dig the borehole. In 2010, we finished the borehole in the village of Kijigari, named the Montessori Well of Love. Its name honors the Heroes of Compassion in Montessori schools that helped raise the money since 2006 necessary to build the borehole. Even though Kijigari was somewhat developed by Azawak standards (there was a school, a womans sewing cooperative and garden planted during the rainy season, a village store, and a village market once a week), the village had no sustainable source of water. When the large marsh dried, the village was abandoned by the population, as the people searched elsewhere for water.

Water was finally reached at 180 meters (a little less than 600 feet) as indicated in the photo at the right. In the top left photo, construction men gather sediment samples as soil is churned out of the ground. Its important to know what we are digging through. In the bottom left photo, children sing in dance thanking Amman Imman for bringing their village water and life.

Kijigari borehole
Montessori Well of Love Love
Ariane, Denis and the Kijigari management committee sit for a picture in frount of the Kijigari water tower. A management committee that manages the finances, the daily operation of the borehole and maintains the water source and its facilities is essential for the long-term success of the borehole. Amman Imman trains the management committee, and then works with a local Nigerien team who regularly visits the villages and does follow up training and work with the management committee. Another essential element for a successful and sustainable borehole is the inclusion of women in the management of the infrastructure. Amman Imman works with the women in each of the villages to ascertain their needs and empower them to work alongside the men on the management committee. This takes a great deal of communication and sensitivity as the cultural norms do not include women in these positions. From Arianes May 2009 update: The life and duration of a borehole depends on how well it is financially and technically managed. After long discussions with Alhassan, Hakami, village leaders and members of the management committee including women such as Raichatou and Sadouan, we arrived at a crucial realization. The members of the Tangarwashane management committee need and want a good deal of follow up training. We are precisely positioned to give them this long-term support until they feel comfortable managing the borehole on their own. To begin fulfilling our promise, we hired three people locally to provide training and assistance twice a month in Tangarwashane and our future sites. We created our own version of a management school, which also provides special support to women to help them increase their voice and role within the committee and community in general. Eventually, the committee will become independent and will no longer require our support. This process may take anywhere from months to years to achieve. But our village communities and Amman Imman are a team united in a common goal: that water will flow for generations and generations, and that communities will grow and thrive. Amman Imman is there to make sure that this happens. The fruit of our labor is already evident. Only one month after reinstating training classes for the management committee, it raised $400 from selling the water to both the local community and nomads using the borehole. Raichatou, the treasurer, traveled to Tahoua last week with her husband in order to open up a bank account where the committee will keep the money earned for the maintenance of the borehole. The local representative from the department of hydraulics, Abdoulkarim, has agreed to sign off whenever money is taken out in order to ensure that the money is spent exclusively for borehole maintenance and repair.

Kijigari borehole
Montessori Well of Love Love
Finished June 2010! Provides water for 35,000 people and animals

The Kijigari borehole was finished in June 2010, and provides water for up to 35,000 people and animals during the dry season. Here you see children fetching water at a water fountain. And in the right photo, you see that even the youngest get to drink clean and plentiful amounts of water. Additional information: 1) Many people have asked how long a borehole can last. This answer is entirely dependent on how well the borehole is managed. In fact, establishing the proper stewardship and management of the borehole over the long run is arguably one the most challenging and rewarding components of our work. It is also one of our top priorities. Depending on how well a borehole is managed, it can last anywhere from a century or more, to just a couple of years. To help ascertain the longevity of the Kijigari borehole, Amman Imman helped establish a Water Resource Management Committee (WRMC) of responsible and trained Kijigari citizens. These individuals were elected democratically by the villagers, but were first chosen based on established criteria. 2) Having successful stewardship of a borehole is not simply about managing it properly once it has been built; it is also about contributing to building and establishing the borehole within the community as the borehole is being constructed. The villagers of Kijigari contributed close to $1000, over 50 men in manpower for two months time, and built over 4,000 clay bricks with local sand and gravel. With these resources, they constructed an adobe shelter for the boreholes engine, as well as a 40 meter long and 8 meter wide wall that surrounds the borehole. The wall protects the borehole from possible damage that animals and villagers could cause. It also keeps the area around the borehole clean. Eventually, the women plan on growing a vegetable garden within the wall parameters. Men also provided labor to the hired construction companies, in order to reduce our overall construction costs.

Amman Immans Goal

Build sustainable water sources in new communities throughout the Azawak

Currently, Amman Imman continues to raise funds to build the next borehole in the Azawak. Over the longer term, Amman Imman intends to build 50 boreholes throughout the region.


Refugees fleeing Libya seek refuge in the Azawak

From Arianes Sept 2011 update:

Dear Friends of the Azawak, As the world turns its attention to the starving children of the Horn of Africa, let us not forget the thirsty and hungry children of the Azawak, who chronically have no more than one glass of mud, and one small bowl of rice or millet to drink and eat in a day. The plight of the Azawak left unknown to most of the world -- has multiplied since Spring, when tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Libya sought political asylum in its vast plains. Even Momine, our Program Director in Niger, spent many of the past couple of months housing and personally providing for over 20 of the refugees from Libya. Both Tangarwashane and Kijigari saw hundreds of refugees settle on their lands banking on the security of having at least safe drinking water. Why the Azawak? Ironically, a large number of these refugees fled the Azawak and migrated to Libya many years ago, seeking opportunity and asylum from thirst and starvation. As examples, my friends Zeinabou, and her daughter, Takat, abandoned the Azawak in January 2005, after one of Nigers worst food crises. Today, many of these migrants that had sought new hope in Libya find themselves once again exiled, this time by warfare. They are returning home where years of prolonged drought have made conditions perpetually worse rather than better. Zeinabou and Takat have decided to remain in Libya, preferring to bear the ravages of war rather than famine and thirst in the Azawak. The refugees have brought with them a desperate need for additional food and water supplies, as well as illnesses that the populations of the Azawak are ill prepared to handle. Just a few months ago, our own village of Tangarwashane lost several of its children (and our friends!) due to a measles outbreak caused by the influx of refugees from Libya. Our local team quickly brought in a doctor to carry out a vaccination campaign and prevent additional deaths in the village and surroundings. Nonetheless, other diseases continue to threaten Tangarwashane, and everyone else living in the Azawak. Hunger and thirst remain an ever-present concern for the refugees and villagers that do not have access to a borehole.

Current Objective to raise $35,000

Food security, education, basic health care In our villages that have water
set up better irrigation systems for sustenance agriculture provide tools and seeds to the schools and families to help them grow food run a vaccination campaign

Arianes Sept 2011 update continued:

Amman Imman is one of the few organizations tackling this humanitarian emergency in the Azawak by helping to provide a sanctuary to both returning and new inhabitants. We continue to supply abundant and clean water to thousands of families, thanks to the boreholes of Kijigari, Tangarwashane and Tchinwagari. We offer basic support to schools in these villages, as well as help the villagers grow their own food. And now, we are hoping to bring additional basic medical assistance, to help prevent new outbreaks and deaths due to diseases brought by the refugees from Libya. As these refugees choose to make the Azawak their home, your compassion will help provide them with the security and stability they so desperately need. Our underlying goal remains to build sustainable water sources boreholes in new communities. We also want to maintain our support in the communities that already have boreholes, by continuing to help in the realms of food security, education, and basic health care. We are currently hoping to raise $35,000 to conduct specific activities while Denis, Fassely and I are in Niger this winter. Among some of the projects we hope to implement include: setting up better irrigation systems for sustenance agriculture providing tools and seeds to the schools and families to help them grow their own food running a vaccination campaign in Tangarwashane, Kijigari, and Tchinwagari. Please consider making a donation today to contribute to our $35,000 goal, and help provide the gift of life and hope to the children of the Azawak. Yours, for the Azawak Ariane

Wells of Love

Service Learning Engage students as Empower youth as environmental advocates, humanitarian leaders and caring philanthropists Inspire global stewardship: youth working together for the worlds most vulnerable world Tangible, direct and longlasting impact on children here and there!

cultivating empathic serving leaders leaders

Heroes of Compassion Compassion

Now onto the third story. This is the story of our Heroes of Compassion. The story of the many individuals, schools, institutions, corporations, churches, etc. that are helping the children of the Azawak. Since 2006, students in Montessori around the world have been working together to build a well borehole a Montessori Well of Love. Students in Public, Independent schools, colleges and universities have join our Wells of Love movement. They are doing presentations to spread awareness and projects to raise funds. Church groups, institutions, and corporations have contributed to help the people of the Azawak. Wells of Love is the service learning program of the humanitarian nonprofit Amman Imman: Water is Life. Amman Immans mission is to empower the worlds most underserved and vulnerable indigenous populations by addressing their most essential needs. Serving as a conduit between these populations and the rest of the world, Amman Imman raises awareness and engages individuals of all ages to take action. Wells of Love empowers students as Heroes of Compassion empathic leaders with caring, philanthropic spirits - by engaging them to help bring stability, life and hope to the worlds most vulnerable. Humanitarian projects around the world provide opportunities for youth to turn their compassion into action, transforming them into young global stewards. Since 2006, youth in the Wells of Love program have been helping Amman Imman build permanent sources of water in the Azawak of West Africa. Wells of Love Goals: * Uniting students and young people of all ages, from preschoolers to university students, as caring philanthropists or Heroes of Compassion, capable of turning their empathy into direct action through collaborative and individually initiated efforts. * Transforming perspectives and attitudes as youth develop an ethic of servant leadership, and are guided to understand that leadership is about having a positive impact on the world through compassion and giving, rather than wielding personal power. * Increasing awareness among students about some of the most crucial humanitarian and environmental issues of our time, and how these affect the lives of children and families around the world. * Connecting cultures through reciprocal exchanges that nurture friendships and promote international understanding. * Empowering youth as activists as they raise funds and awareness for some of the worlds most underserved and vulnerable populations.


Wells of Love
What We Do
Aid, Empower, Bring Hope

Educate about pressing global issues Raise awareness about the affect on peoples lives people Teach students to listen to the needs of the most disenfranchised

Wells of Love utilizes specially designed tools whereby students in schools learn about the water crisis, drought and desertification, and the impact of global climate change as they discover the Azawak region. Students connect and respond with compassion towards the people, who in spite of their precarious circumstances maintain great dignity, exhibit beauty, and share kindness.


Wells of Love
What We Do
Aid, Empower, Bring Hope

Conduct workshops and presentations Provide resources for youth to learn Promote activities for young people to engage in collaborative action Encourage youth to take part as leaders in Amman Immans Imman work in the Azawak


Our Heroes of Compassion

What you can do
Make a difference 1. Learn about the crisis in the Azawak
Research using the AI website Download Resources and Tools Watch our YouTube videos

2. Take Action
Present the project in your community. Declare your objective. Start a campaign. Implement an activity or event to raise awareness and funds. Download a Fundraising Planning Kit from our Resource page!

3. Share your experience

Submit feedback and photos. Send us your story and well add it to the we Wells of Love blog

Top left, A student presents Amman Imman to his community. Students from one school have made presentations to students in other schools, thereby spreading Amman Imman from school to school. Bottom left, An older student works with a classroom of younger students to help them experience what it feels like to carry water. Resources and Tools page Wells of Love blog

Our Heroes of Compassion

Resources and Tools
Learn, act, reflect

Presentations, videos Curriculum Materials Fundraising Planning Guides Join a campaign Connect online Share your story

On our resources website,, you can download this presentation, a detailed script, curriculum materials, fundraising kits, and tools to build a campaign at your school. Also, be sure to visit our blog where you can read stories about what schools have done,

A Walk For Water

Collaborative, symbolic, experiential symbolic,

Chantilly, Virginia, USA

Orcas Island, Washington, USA

Lake Frank, Maryland, USA

Wellington, New Zealand

A Walk for Water is a collective walk that symbolizes the 35 miles that a child living in the Azawak has to travel to get water for their family. Students walk a certain distance, often around 3 miles, and raise funds by asking their school community, friends, family, and local businesses to sponsor them, usually no less than $5.00 for each mile walked. A Walk for Water has been held at local parks, on wooded trails, in small towns and on city streets, raising as much as $12,000. Schools may stage their own walk but they are strongly encouraged to collaborate with other schools in order to maximize the philanthropic action and demonstrate the potential of working together toward a shared goal. Download A Walk for Water planning kit here:

For stories about A Walk for Water, read the Wells of Love Blog:


Fitness, Fun and Funds

The Amman-a-thon is a skill-building fundraising event through which students improve their athletic and math skills while raising funds towards a Well of Love. This project started with young students but can be adapted for any age level. Over the course of a few months, students practice hopping on one leg, twirling a hula hoop, shooting baskets, jumping rope, doing jumping jacks and other activities to gain proficiency. On Amman-a- thon Day, they partner with a friend, listen for go from the teacher, and count each hop, jump, hula and basket goal until the teachers shouts, stop. Previous to the event, they rally their family and friends to pledge support, getting promises of 5 and 10 cents per hop, jump, basket and hula spin that they will accomplish during a given amount of time. Classrooms of 30 students have raised as much as $5,000. Amman-a-thon ties together athleticism and philanthropy, providing students with a first-hand experience of how practice adds up to something concrete and powerful. Download the Amman-a-thon kit from this page: For stories about the Amman-a-thon read the Wells of Love Blog: Watch this YouTube video to see the Amman-a-thon in action:


Student-initiated actvities

Hand in Hand

Engaging kids in hands-on

Creative Philanthropy
Bake sales Jewelry parties Craft sales Dramatic plays Birthday parties Lemonade stand Carnival

Hand in Hand translates individual and group creativity into philanthropic action, encouraging students and schools to use their talents and skills to raise funds towards their Well of Love. Students choose a project of their own design. They plan, organize and implement the project. Varying from bake sales to craft sales, from jewelry parties to dramatic plays, these activities symbolize the growing friendship between the two cultures as they walk hand in hand toward love and hope. The goal is to for students to use their creativity and do something they enjoy while raising money for a purpose greater than themselves. Another example: several kids have collected Amman Imman donation in lieu of birthday gifts at their parties

Wells of Love Hand in Hand

campaign Amman Imman Carnival
Yearly neighborhood event Organized by kids in Arlington, Virginia

5th graders organize a yearly carnival in their neighborhood. The street is closed off and the entire neighborhood participates. The community comes together to support the people of the Azawak. Games, prizes, fun! All for a greater purpose.

Wells of Love
Idea starter: Calendar Of Monthly Activities Prepared by Five Oaks Academy Simpsonville, SC

These inventive Heroes of Compassion in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina manifested their love in February by wearing love, peace and heart graphics on Valentine's day and donating $2 per person for the people of the Azawak. To make this creative fundraiser meaningful for the students, the teachers used our curriculum materials to incorporate a lesson about Amman Imman's work to bring water to the Azawak in time for the Valentine's Day fundraiser. We recently received their check for $265 raised on "Giving Graphics Day" as part of the Wells of Love initiative!

Wells of Love
You can help!

American School of Paris Green Team and National Honor Society

American School of Paris Awareness raising: From the Wells of Love Blog: Students from the American School of Paris Green Team are examples of youth in our Wells of Love program who are operating as compassionate, serving leaders. These students attended the Global Issues Network conference in Luxembourg last week. The conference is led by students for students. In addition to listening to speakers and attending workshops on global equity and development, the ASP Green Team students presented Amman Imman at a workshop for other students. Fundraising: The American School of Paris Honor Society held a charity Evening for the Arts during which students performed and shared their talents. Proceeds, around $8,000, went to Amman Imman.

Wells of Love
You can help!

Amman Imman at Virginia Tech

Students from the American Water Resource Association at Virgnia Tech held several events to raise awareness and funds for Amman Imman. They held a special event on World Water Day. They plan to make their campaign even larger this year.

Friendship Exchange
Culture, connections, communication

The Friendship Exchange is a cross-cultural relationship-building project for registered Wells of Love schools. This activity creates an opportunity for exchange and friendship building between Heroes of Compassion and the children in the Azawak. The first Friendship Exchange took place in Spring, 2009 when the Amman Imman team brought bracelets and cards with photos from over 200 children in three American schools to the Azawak. The Amman Imman team told the Nigerien children about their American counterparts who in addition to helping bring water wanted their friendship. The children in the Azawak made a bracelet to return to their friends with a corresponding photo. Wells of Love will continue to sponsor relationship-building activities that will nurture cross-cultural understanding and personal connection through the Friendship Exchange. As it will take considerable resources and travel to the Azawak to conduct this exchange, registered schools will be invited to apply to participate.


Wells of Love

Join our Heroes of Compassion Raise awareness by organizing a presentation Conduct A Walk For Water Hold an Amman-a-thon Run/Bike/Swim for Water Engage in a Hand in Hand project Conduct your own fun and educational activity

YOU can help!

Finally, I hope that this will also become your story. I urge you to help the children of the Azawak. No one else is interested in helping them. These children deserve to live and have hope. In order to do so, they need compassionate and caring people like you. As individuals, institutions, etc we can make a huge difference in the lives of the 500,000 people of the Azawak. Please become a Hero of Compassion, join our mission to save the lives of the children of the Azawak and bring them hope.


Share your compassion

Tell about the people of the Azawak

Listen with an open mind

Hear what people have to say

Ask from your heart

Provide the opportunity to help

Is this enough? Will three boreholes (Tangarwashane,Tchinwagari, and Kijigari) serve the need of all 500,000 people living in the Azawak? No. Most people are still drinking brackish water, and many are still dying of dehydration. Most are still spending all day every day in a desperate search for water. Many more Oases of Life need to be built. This is what we are planning on doing, and we hope to do this with your help!


Bring water and hope To the people of the Azawak a www.ammanimman. Debbie@ammanimman. 240-418-1143

And this pure aquifer water available all day every day -- is what people are now drinking. As you can imagine, this has had a huge impact on the peoples lives. Not only are the people healthier because they have more water to drink, cook, and wash with. Their animals are healthier, livestock herds have increased and are providing more milk. Theyve begun growing sustenance crops, and have time for small-scale revenue generating activities. Theyve also built a school for themselves (in Tangarwashane). This is a beautiful success story, and the members of Amman Imman as well as everyone else that helped make this happen are very proud to have helped close to 100,000 people and animals in the Azawak (through Tangarwashane, Kijigari, and Tchinwagari) Please visit our websites to learn more. Our main website, or Our blogs, and our resources website where you can download materials and kits: Also, join our Facebook page: Facebook cause: Visit our YouTube channel, and read our Twitter feed. - share these with your friends! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Ariane Kirtley, founder and director,, associate director and Wells of Love director,